The USS Beatty (DD-640) served in the U.S. Navy for approximately one year during World War II. She was named for Frank Edmund Beatty, who served with the U.S. Navy around the turn of the 20th century, and was sponsored by Mrs. Charles H. Drayton, the daughter of Admiral Beatty. Beatty was built as a Gleaves-class ship.
Beatty was laid down in Charleston, South Carolina at the Charleston Navy Yard in May of 1941. She was launched in December of 1941 and commissioned in May of 1942, with Lieutenant Commander F.C. Stelter, Jr. at the helm. Beatty carried a crew of 208 and had a cruising speed of 35 knots. She was armed with four five-inch anti-aircraft guns, six half-inch machine guns, and ten 21-inch torpedo tubes.
Following her initial shakedown and training, Beatty began her military service as a member of the Atlantic Fleet. During her initial months at sea, she patrolled along the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean. In the fall of 1942, she left on her first long-haul voyage: escorting the Southern Attack Force to North Africa for an impending invasion.
Following the initial escort run, Beatty was placed on convoy duty. She made three round trips between New York and Casablanca, Morocco between December of 1942 and April of 1943.
After a brief respite stateside, Beatty sailed for Oran, Algeria in June, then traveled to the Mediterranean to support the invasion of Sicily. Beatty then returned to New York once again. In August and September of 1943, she completed a round-trip convoy escort between New York and the Mediterranean.
In October, Beatty escorted a convoy to Great Britain. There, she picked up her next charge: a convoy bound for the Mediterranean. On November 6, the convoy was at sea near Cape Bourgaroun, Algeria when it was attacked by a fleet of German airplanes. Beatty was initially successful in fending off attacks, but she was eventually struck by a torpedo. The ship broke nearly in two, but remained afloat for over three hours before finally sinking. Eleven men were lost and eight wounded in the incident.
Beatty was awarded three battle stars for her service during World War II.
Asbestos Risk on the USS Beatty (DD-640)
Beatty, like most destroyers of this era, was loaded with asbestos products. Insulation, fireproofing, packing: the versatile mineral was used in applications ship-wide. Nearly every sailor serving aboard Beatty was exposed to asbestos during his service. Such exposure is linked to a number of serious diseases, including mesothelioma.
The incidence of asbestos disease increases with regular exposure and time spent exposed. Because Beatty sailed for less than a year before sinking, the overall asbestos risk to her crew was less than it would have been had she stayed afloat. Still, any contact with asbestos can be sufficient to trigger long-lasting health consequences. If you or a loved one survived Beatty, and were later diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have legal options.Sources
Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-640.
NavSource Naval History, USS Beatty (DD-640).